You might imagine that it would take an unusual level of confidence — and open-mindedness — on the part of homeowners to green-light their interior designer’s plans for a primary bedroom with an orchid and melon color scheme. Except when it’s the rare client whose favorite combination is purple and orange and the designer is Jamie Drake, a master of unconventional, punchy palettes who’s never encountered a shade of purple he couldn’t implement with panache.
About a decade ago, Drake was enlisted by regulars to revive a historic Long Island estate anchored by a stately red-brick Georgian home that had “beautiful bones,” the designer says, “but never really did.” had been updated since its construction in 1913.’ Before coming to any chromatic bloom — and there would be plenty, including the couple’s bedroom — it took a lot of work to modernize the home for 21st-century living.
For starters, it had no air conditioning and all plumbing and electrical systems had to be redone. An ill-conceived 1970s extension with garages, it was decided, would be demolished and replaced by a new pool house and entertainment wing. In addition, the owners wanted to use the lower floor of the house for things like a gym, billiards room, and wine cellar. But when planning the new geothermal HVAC system, it became clear that the ceiling height below would only be about seven and a half feet. “We came up with the idea that we could lift the house on a steel web and dig it down,” explains Drake.
Once the house was set on a new foundation, the chimneys were rebuilt with brick that was matched to the original, and the century-old windows replaced, Drake turned his attention to the interior. He worked closely with Caleb Anderson, his partner in Drake/Anderson since 2015, to preserve the spirit and historical detail of the rooms, while upgrading them to include the refined flair the duo is known for (and fully featured). in their first monograph together, In bold, coming from Rizzoli in October).
In the hall, Drake and Anderson kept the marble checkerboard floor, numbered each tile and carefully reinstalled it. They rebuilt the staircase in marble instead of the pre-existing wood, which Drake says “looked like a total disconnect from the fantastic ironwork railing.” And while they based the room’s plaster, top door decorations, and fluted pilasters on the originals, “they made them taller, bolder, and stronger,” says Drake, noting that they also removed one of the pilasters for a better rhythmic balance and for wall space for art, a place where they showed a graphic Roy Lichtenstein painting of sailboats.
The owners’ art, almost all modern and contemporary, sets the tone throughout the house and serves as a foil to the traditional architecture. In the foyer, next to the Lichtenstein, one of Alexander Calder’s iconic mobile phones floats above a sculptural metal piano by London firm Based Upon “which looks like it’s invaded from space,” as Drake puts it. Neoclassical mirrors and antique ruby glass sconces have been mounted by Hervé Van der Straeten over Deco-esque consoles in parchment, bronze and lacquer, contributing to an age-old mix that, according to Drake, “is a statement of what goes on in the rest of the house.” .”
While the entrance usually sticks to muted neutrals, visible through open doorways are spaces splashed with bold colors, not least the living room, where the walls are skimmed in a plaster that Drake describes as a “warm, embracing, vibrant coral-like salmon.” . At the center of the room is a large, robust modern Vladimir Kagan tête-à-tête sofa, while the seating areas on either side have the same diverse furniture – a 1940s upholstered sofa and chair, biomorphic contemporary cocktail tables, an English open armchair – put together in “asymmetric symmetric groupings where everything is flipped,” says Drake. A spiraling circular painting by Blair Thurman is displayed above the flowery marble mantelpiece, flanked by antique English corbels with Tang horses completing the picture of lively eclecticism.
“We were looking for a balance, aiming for elegance and high style with a certain amount of formality, but not in a way that is leaden and certainly not grandmotherly,” says Drake. “It’s a high style that looks to the past but doesn’t ignore the present.”
In the dining room, Drake and Anderson lined the walls with traditional paneling with a carved linen fold detail along the base, but they painted it all an electric cobalt blue and installed artwork by Gerhard Richter, Anish Kapoor, and Maya Lin, creating an atmosphere that was anything but austere. The room’s landmark Suzan Etkin lighting fixture with blown glass drum screens is connected to a hydraulic system so it can be raised to allow for larger-scale entertainment with various configurations of tables in the space.
The library was given a completely new mahogany cladding, classic in style but also with a twist. The bookshelves are wrapped in parchment, “a contemporary version that lights up the entire room,” says Drake, who accentuated the largely neutral space with bold crimson hues in the seat covers and curtain trim.
No conviction was needed when it came to the lavender backsplash, purple reverse-painted glass cabinetry and violet upholstered breakfast chairs in what he calls “a contemporary take on a 1910 kitchen.” Ditto the dressing room upstairs, in a lilac shade.
The customers share Drake’s fondness for purple, and they love to mix it with orangish tones, hence their bedroom’s signature palette, which is reflected in the curtains, bedding, chair covers and Persian carpet, even in the Wayne Thiebaud landscape painting hanging. above an antique English chest of drawers. A window behind the bed that was closed was restored to recapture “the most beautiful view,” says Drake, who describes the grounds around the house as “a balance between formal gardens and a more rural, rolling landscape.”
The century-old gardens have been restored and updated by landscape architect Janice Parker, a frequent Drake/Anderson contributor. Together they refreshed the freestone terraces and designed a new granite pool, all equipped with Michael Taylor outdoor furniture. In these areas, Parker emphasized plants with lush, vibrant foliage and flowers, including, of course, Agastache, lavender, and phlox in shades of purple.
There’s also a sculptural bronze fire pit surrounded by curved granite benches overlooking one of Tony Cragg’s spectacular winding totems, shaded by towering cryptomeria trees, beyond the trellises of the historic rose garden. Both outside and inside, the residence speaks to tradition and also embraces the new. Drake, who brings it all together with harmonious zest, sums up the house like this: “It shows how true eclecticism can really sing.”